Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Summary of Student Meeting

Last night we had a meeting for all students. I will not bore you with minor issues, but focus on the things that got people upset and annoyed.

Jane Nelson told us about the curriculum changes. The 6 x 20 credit modules look like a fait accompli – so I don’t think that we can do anything about this. Ditto - the plan to claw back £8m by making staff redundant. Note the slippery language: ‘2 Big Projects’ and ‘repositioning’.
Apparently our university has not had an increase in applications like other places, and in the student survey apparently said we wanted more consistency in modules, and the new 6 x 20 thing will give us this wonderful new learning experience.

The big question from the students was: ‘will we be paying more for less ?’

This was answered by Aaron Porter, the vice-president of the NUS. He is an excellent speaker.
Aaron has been involved in meetings with Peter Mandelson and David Lammy. There is a plan by government to increase tuition fees once the election is over (irrespective of which of the three main parties gets elected). Universities could have a mandate to charge what they like, and prestigious universities could charge astronomical amounts. Figures bandied around for average universities are £5 -10K a year - resulting in a system of higher education based on the ability to pay, which excludes talented people who can’t afford it.
The body looking into tuition fees is comprised of business people (who must live on another planet). There is a token student rep, with no power on the committee. Aaron was told by Mandelson that he would have to resign from the NUS if he wanted to be on this committee.
Write to your MP about tuition fees – bet you don’t get a straightforward answer though.

There is also a protest meeting about tuition fees arranged for 3rd December outside the Vice-Chancellor’s office at Birmingham University.

Just to end these jolly tidings – staff at the useless SLC were paid £2 million in bonuses for cocking up people’s loans.

We live in a mad world!


The Plashing Vole said...

Glad you've posted this. What was the general mood in the meeting? Was the uni presentation just spin, and did people believe it? More!

Sue's Blog said...

I think that this was the first proper AGM in 20 years. MC001 was packed out, and there was a lot of student anger over tuition fees.
Aaron Porter was a brilliant speaker and got a standing ovation.
The new curriculum did not seem to be up for negotiation.
One student said: “Are you asking us or telling us?”
Some students were concerned about January starters, others about loss of choice.
We were told everything would be ‘better’ – deadlines more spread out, more time for feedback, more focused – ‘better’ resourced, supported and timetabled – ‘better’ cross referencing and linkage between modules. Reassured face to face contact with lecturers would not be reduced.
A student said: “So we will be paying more for fewer lectures?”
The student got a massive round of applause, but no answer.
The mood was electric.
The students felt they had no choice.
Aaron Porter seems a very determined person.
We need to see how things go at Birmingham University next week.